"Cor ..... incredible, what a place chief! Quite remarkable."
Not my words, but those of short-suffering BRAPA mascot Colin the Cauliflower when I turned to him a few minutes ago and asked him about that magical night of Friday 28th August.
Even more remarkable when I think back to the broken empty husk of a man I was, standing on London Bridge platform 6 an hour or so before. The weirdness of Woodmansterne had taken it out of me, and a cup of cocoa and an early night was looking more tempting than three more pubs at this stage.
I stood like a zombie on the busy commuter-lined platform, watching trains and folk coming and going. Places like Orpington & Petts Wood were on my radar, but in the end, I pulled myself together and opted for Bromley North, via Grove Park, which you might remember from a pretty disastrous Antic tick last summer. After all, Bromley has three GBG pubs, so if I was successful here, it'll round it up to a perfect six.
The first sign that the stars were aligning to produce one of those special evenings was when a funny bloke introduced his six year old German Shepherd called John to myself and a poor unsuspecting young Asian businesswoman, with me basically throwing her under the proverbial bus by looking the other way and making her deal with 100% of the interaction. John had never been on a train before, and the poor twoggy creature looked curiously as all these fast tubes of noise shot through the station.
Once in Bromley, I took a few gulps of the Kentish / South London air and aimed, as any experienced pub ticker would, for the more off centre pub first, short walk though it was into the backstreets.
|Bromley pubbing, here we come|
|Those toms need a bit more sun if they are gonna ripen|
The busy outdoor drinking area was the first thing I noticed at Red Lion (1825) followed by a feeling of relief as I entered a beautiful carpeted traditional local with gleaming original green tiling and a big bookcase lining the right hand wall. My joy was short lived. Before I could even sniff the bar, I was told they were at full capacity and I'd have to wait outside where someone would come to serve me! What a shame. A more churlish version of myself may have argued that if social distancing was the aim here, it would still have been easier to do it inside than out, but good I guess to see a pub observing rules on pub capacity and being responsible. I still moaned about it to two local blokes and had time to explain BRAPA before their taxi conveniently arrived to let them escape, but I also told them it looked like they'd been here all day (only since 6pm in truth). "Ho ho, those days are long gone" said one. "Do you know anyone in Bromley?" they asked me, and when I said not, they looked worried for me. I was eventually served by a friendly lady with a garish, flammable looking shirt, and with the cold evening wind blowing about, I shivered my way through a quality pint of Proper Job. "Don't worry, we've given you extra bin liners for comfort!" she says, and I wonder whether she expected me to wrap one around myself as they were just lining the benches. A lady asks if she can stub out her ciggie in the upturned plant pot Colin is resting on, and I contemplate how a pub like this will cope in the deepening winter months, without having to turn many punters away.
|My tantalising view "What I could've won!"|
|Colin, pre cig stubbing incident but I shouldn't judge, it might be his kink|
|Forbidden 'way back from the bogs' shot, take one|
|Forbidden 'way back from the bogs' shot, take two|
|Not allowed to go in, pub ticker rules! |
|Oh Colin, what have you done?|
|Okay, who's drunk all the 12% coconut stout?|
|Fewer rules than 90% of rural Surrey pubs to be honest|
|Tasty, and cheap|
|.... or maybe not! (p.s. I've got that yellow jacket / chequered trousers combo)|